Execs Respond To 'Geld' Memo

Salt Lake bid executives Tom Welch and Dave Johnson tagged the names of loyal supporters with the word "geld" - the German word for money - in a dossier of International Olympic Committee members.

But Johnson's attorney, Max Wheeler, insisted Saturday that the term was never meant to imply IOC members' votes for Salt Lake's 2002 Winter Olympics bid could be bought with cash.

Geld also means gold in Flemish, the language Johnson used as a young Mormon missionary in Belgium, and was his term for potential converts then.

"It was a term that was used in the mission field to mean `golden' somebody who was on your side or receptive to your message," Wheeler said.

Welch provided a similar account.

"It's nothing," he said, translating geld as "golden contacts."

"Geld" appears in a gossipy Salt Lake memo next to the names of eight IOC members including five implicated last year for accepting cash, gifts, scholarships and other inducements from the Salt Lake bid committee.

"Nobody ever approached me with money and I never received a red cent," Jamaican IOC member Tony Bridge said Saturday from his home in Kingston.

Welch recalled Bridge as a "great statesman" and respected IOC member worthy of the geld label. He was one of two IOC members not previously associated with the scandal who were marked as geld in the 28-page memo.

The other was Francis Nyangwesco of Uganda, whose name appeared next to the notes: "son 17 needs a future, equipment, geld."

The bid committee regularly awarded money for sports equipment in foreign countries, although the SLOC ethics panel reported that little of the money ostensibly relayed to national Olympic committees made it into the hands of athletes or impoverished youths.

Bidders used the geld file to keep track of the personal quirks, loyalties and family needs of IOC members. Johnson is believed to have maintained the list in a computer file, jotting notes he gleaned about IOC members.

The memo was retrieved under a subpoena in the U.S. Justice Department's grand jury investigation of the Olympics scandal. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee released it Friday, a day after the Justice Department said it wouldn't prosecute the organization.

The cryptic memo covered the significant and the trivial, from details about Salt Lake's most influential supporters, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Swiss member Marc Hodler, to South Korean member Kim Un-yong's fondness for chocolate chip cookies.

"The Kims loved Mrs. Fields cookies," Welch said, referring to the Salt Lake-based company.

The memo does not mention the word "bribe" or inventory gift-giving. It consists of two lists, one sparse and the other containing more details on IOC members.

The only clue to the memo's authorship is a heading for First Security Corp. on one page. The bank's chirman and CEO, Spencer Eccles, still serves on the board of trustees of the organizing committee.

First Security "had nothing to do with the memo," Eccles' attorney, Rodney Snow, said Saturday. He could not explain why the bank's name appeared on a page.

Snow and Eccles were shown part of the geld memo when the Olympic trustee was interviewed by Justice Department, but Snow said he never saw any mention of First Security on those papers.

Eccles, who also appeared before the federal grand jury, is a cooperating witness in the Olympic probe, Snow said.